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This is a guide for starting off Arena mode quickly & easily in Madness: Project Nexus. I made this guide because I lost my save progress and I know how frustrating the game is at the beginning if you don't know the right stats/weapons to focus on.
Don't need to finish story mode. Don't ever do Zombie mode as the clunky grappling will easily get you instant killed and reset your progress back to Wave 1. If you think you're going to die, exit to Main Menu and you'd save your wave, but not gain XP/cash. Don't expect to get past wave 80 since computers start lagging then with the game fills the room with GOLEM Mk.IIs. You can also refresh the shop by going to Main Menu. Can't sell unwanted items, but can throw away unwanted weapons by entering Arena, throwing them and then going back into the door (don't press the start wave button).
First part is tl;dr. Second part is explanation.
Stats, Weapons & Tricks to focus on:
- First 5 points Strength > Dexterity > Strength > TAC > Awareness > Endurance & Leadership
- Unarmed, SMGs, Rifles > Pistols > Shotguns & Melee
- Guns with highest ammo capacity - M249 SAW > Steyr Aug > MP7.
- Scope (+Accuracy) generally more useful than Laser Sight (+Range). Accuracy lets you wear down TAC bar and kill enemy ATP agents/Soldat faster.
- Remove the helmets off the giant armored GOLEMs with fists. Dash attack, keep punching until they've recovered, run away. Repeat until helmet comes off. Then fill head with bullets. GOLEMs appear in wave 12, 24, 36 and every wave after. GOLEM MK.IIs first appear in wave 37.
- Fight unarmed grunts with bare hands. Abuse dash attack (double-tap direction, left click). Don't get surrounded, don't be afraid to run.
- Melee weapon grunts. Again, abuse dash attack. Use Bullet Time (shift) if necessary. Lure enemy away before you try to pick up the melee weapons they drop. Melee weapons with longer range preferable. I find the Sledgehammer to be best, followed by iron pipe. Bottles suck.
- If die, try again. Get XP & Cash anyway. If impatient, buy cheap melee weapon to make the starting unarmed grunts less tedious.
- Don't bring knife to gunfight. Buy 1 pistol, equip it. In order of ammo: FiveSeven (20) > Beretta 92 (18) > Glock 20/USP Match (16) > P1445 (14) > Browning HP (13). Other pistols, especially revolvers are not recommended. Other stats not a problem. Cheapest are Browning HP ($852) & Beretta 92 ($896).
- Get close (within red cursor line). Shoot once in the head. Shoot again in head if not dead. Don't waste bullets on enemies that are standing but shaking back and forth; they're dead and have temporarily become meat shields.
- Don't be too close to enemy. You will either tend to miss or use a pathetic pistol whip that doesn't even shove enemies away properly.
- If out of ammo, don't throw pistol away. Swap to secondary, toss melee weapon if any for dropped pistols on the floor.
- If TAC bar gets threatened, either kill the person before he shoots you, or spacebar just before he shoots; too early and you'd still get shot when getting up.
Continue the above strategy until you can buy an SMG, preferably a HK MP7 for its 40 ammo. If you can, get a Steyr Aug. If you can get an M249, use it alongside a Steyr Aug; don't use x2 M249s. And don't ever lose your M249; its expensive.
If you followed the above strategy and leveled the correct stats, you should be able to steamroll the rest of the waves.
Part 2 - Strategy Explanation:
The best weapons are Rifles & Unarmed, followed by SMGs, then Pistols. Shotguns & Melee weapons are rubbish. All guns can generally kill in 1-2 hits, especially to the head - which means high damage weapons are already pretty useless to begin with. High damage weapons usually have low ammo, which means you kill less people before you need to throw it away, which is bad in a game where scavenging weapons in a messy floor is difficult and can get you killed. High damage weapons drain more TAC bar per shot, but I find that the TAC bar behaves rather inconsistently, so I'd rather have a lower damage auto with a controllable but fast rate of fire. Rifles and SMGs are at the top as automatic weapons with a large ammo capacity (Steyr Aug & MP7 being the best in their respective categories), with Rifles being preferred due to better range and damage, though SMGs are slightly shorter and so don't suffer from enemies rushing in too close to you as much and generally better rate of fire. Pistols are just downgraded SMGs. Revolvers and shotguns are just plain horrible. Don't even bother using the M203 as its damage isn't that fantastic, has only 2-3 shots and it causes self & friendly fire. Overall, despite all the weapon variety, there's only ever 3 weapons + unarmed worth using.
Unarmed is better than Melee for 3 reasons, all related to fighting GOLEMs. 1) Drop weapon = unarmed. Don't need to pick up a specific item, and faster to pick up a gun when necessary. 2) Unarmed when maxed out is a lot faster than Melee. 3) Melee has a lousy block that won't protect you from being shoved away, grants no mobility to get out of a bad position, leaves your back vulnerable and gunshots can shoot away your melee weapon, leaving you unarmed. Unarmed uses the same dodge move as guns, which not only lets you move to a better position but grants you invulnerability frames. The only real advantage melee weapons have is a longer range.
As explained earlier, scopes are generally preferable to laser sights, since scope accuracy translates to better TAC bar damage while laser sights merely add more effective range which isn't very useful when you can just walk closer to the enemy. Pistols will never have scopes by the way; all other guns except M203(but including revolvers) can have scopes. However, if you can have both upgrades, even better! Just make sure its on an MP7, Steyr Aug or M249; if the base weapon is crap, then no amount of scope/laser sight will really make it truly top-tier.
2 high ammo notable weapons: M249 machine gun and Auto9 robocop pistol. Auto9 is basically just a 50-ammo SMG with pathetic range & accuracy; you're better off buying a scoped MP7 for something similar. The M249 is still the best weapon in the game to have despite its nerf; it no longer gains rifle perks, has a very slow reload and it severely limits your mobility to the same as not having leveled Dexterity. However, its 200 ammo per magazine (you start with 1 spare magazine) lets you last very long without needing to change weapons or reload and its damage is superb. The limited mobility will give you problems since the ATP Soldats can get in your face very quickly and you will find the clumsy dodge an issue. Plus losing an M249 is a very expensive cost. That's why I don't recommend having x2 M249; you're better off using a Steyr Aug together with an M249. If you are lucky enough to see a scoped M249, grab it immediately!
For weapon proficiencies, I suggested leveling Unarmed first since it'd help you get through Wave 1 quickly. Once you're in Wave 2, you won't be going unarmed again until wave 12 where you meet your first GOLEM. Therefore, you level up unarmed until you reach Wave 2, then you level up SMGs next, alongside Rifles. You don't need pistol proficiency to be able to get far into the game since you can just headshot with the pistol and also pick up more from the floor. As the waves increase, SMGs will appear much later, and Rifles only become common very late - although you can buy them from the shop earlier for the better magazine size than pistols and for your long term SMG/Rifle proficiencies to work with. By the time you are at Wave 24, you should have nearly maxed out SMG/Rifle while having Unarmed maxed so you can easily deal with the GOLEMs, latest by wave 36. The other weapon proficiencies are not important since you'd be using rifles/SMGs/unarmed exclusively and you shouldn't really need to scavenge new guns if you have a M249 as your secondary.
The first 5 points in Strength is crucial for you to be able to carry 2 weapons. After those 5 points, its all about getting Stun-Dash 1 perk and melee damage, which isn't as important until your Dexterity is maxed.
Dexterity is the most important stat. The first perk is activated at level 5 when you get your TAC-bar, which is a life-saver. Without this perk, it'd be just like shooting ATP Agents (full-face yellow helm). It'd also give you faster movement speed, which is always welcome so you can keep your distance from the enemy and move away from bad positions. Just as importantly, it'd improve your clumsy roll into a fast dodge and then into a ninja flip. The melee weapon block perks aren't important though.
Tactics (TAC) is your real survival stat, kind of like Halo's energy shield. It'd let you avoid damage altogether and the TAC bar regenerates unlike your actual HP. You'd want this to be pretty high as the game will start to kill you around Wave 30 by surrounding you with a lot of ATP Soldats (one yellow eye goggle).
Endurance is almost useless. If you do take damage despite your TAC bar, then endurance reduces the damage you take. You should level this 2nd-last, at most put an early 5 points if you think your character looks too ugly without clothes. Also, your HP increases by 1 per charcter level anyway.
Leadership is only for getting squadmates. Squadmates are useless until very late into the game, where they'd be helpful for covering your back against the regular mooks while you take care of the GOLEMs. Squadmates tend to be stupid; walking into GOLEMs and getting their weapons knocked off them, sometimes bugging by walking upwards indefinitely for the rest of the wave. Even worse, squadmates are a pain to level up due to RNG and the fact that they only gain experience if THEY kill mooks, meaning you have to leave some enemies for them to kill and not clear the wave yourself. The best squadmate is actually Jebus Christoff because of his unique dodge animation which works very well with the M249, his only problem is that his stats start lower than Hank. Remember to buy some spare weapons for your squadmates. Remember to exit to Main Menu if your squadmate dies, otherwise you have to re-level him all over again.
Awareness is moderately useful. The first 5 points will actually be helpful early on to get more 1-shot kills. Beyond that, its mostly for the TAC bar damage against ATP Agents/Soldats, and the side benefit of improving Bullet Time. You only really need to use Bullet Time if you are in a bad position and need to kill a whole horde ASAP.
That's all you need to know about Madness: Project Nexus' Arena mode. After a while, you'd realize its just a grinding simulator and the replay value is lost. That said, Project Nexus is still one of the best Madness games out there and I can't wait for the sequel to the released. Happy slaughtering!